When I attended the K-12 schools of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, the district was one of the best in Iowa. While I pursued higher education and professional opportunities outside of Iowa over the past six years following my graduation from Cedar Rapids Washington High School, I have been disheartened to see the decline of the district’s excellence. 2016 saw an exodus of talented administrators and teachers leaving the district and more could follow.
I have three solutions for Superintendent Brad Buck and the district to consider in 2017.
First, Dr. Buck should re-examine district policies for supporting employees. Over the past month I spoke with six retired and current Cedar Rapids school administrators, teachers, and staff who were distraught at the district’s “push out” of many principals, a lack of listening to teachers about what is important for students’ success and downgrading the district’s commitment to AP courses.
Second, the district should take a careful approach to magnet schools. There are some successful models for magnet schools in the U.S., e.g., the Cristo Rey Network, but they can also be mismanaged, fail to improve student outcomes, and divert precious state dollars from the district’s current schools.
Lastly, parents should attend the school board’s 2017 public meetings. Your voice and questions on behalf of your children matter and your school board members should be asking tough questions to avoid further decline.